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Amazing how many people get bent out of shape about the truth.

Two experiences with surveys in the last week

We have a neighbor friend that is a widow now for 4 years. Her direct neighbor is her deceased husband's brother. She needed to have a new fence put in to keep her dog on her property and the installer recommended having the property surveyed. Her BIL hit the roof that she was going to have the survey completed because he could be trusted. She had the survey completed and the BIL actually picked up additional property but he was still unhappy about the fence being redone. So upset, he rescinded her right to be buried next to her husband in the family cemetery.

We are buying my parents a home near by so they will be close, 15 minutes as compared to 3.5 hours. The home being purchase resides on ~8 acres. The official property description has the two land lots with 8 different exceptions that are dated from 1940 through 1970, each exception giving a little land to various neighbors. We had two neighbors refuse access to their property for measuring purposes as the land was not adding up. Our surveyor had to get the county involved and ended up measuring 9 different pieces of property to get it all correct. One neighbor that refused access "lost" about an 1/8 of an acre of their 200 acres, yes 200. I say "lost" because it isn't hers but there was no plan to make her move the swing they built. Last night when we met with her she got so worked up because the line she felt made more sense wasn't being followed that she ended up having a cardiac event and left in an ambulance.

The other neighbor that refused access last about a 1/4 acre but it is property that is unusable and outside their fence. They aren't happy but not mad.

Just amazing how much anger the truth brings out.
 

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Interesting stories.

The place next to mine looks like it may be for sale now. I had a survey done when we first bought our place so I know exactly where my lines are. This guy who is selling came here afterward and thinks he owns a little further onto my property only because there is a gully between our places. I was just saying this morning that as soon as I see movement over there I am going to remark the survey stakes in bright orange so there are no questions if the place changes hands.

Funny how the people around you got so worked up about property lines that they had no real proof of.
 

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It is interesting, but who's to say the newest survey is correct? Please don't be offended as I only offer some thoughts I had concerning time period, survey equipment, and changes that would seem to account for differences.

For instance, the property East of me has had 3 (soon to be 4) different owners since we moved here 42 years ago. To the West there have been 4 different owners. Twice a surveyor has come to ask me if I knew where any metal pins were located. I have always known where two of them are on the East side, so they start from there. Pretty much got my whole property marked this last time for free and he put in steel pins that should be easy to find for a few years.
So, this one took my word for it instead of starting at the center of a cross road and measuring a thousand more feet or so. That crossing road has been widened at least twice in these 42 years. See where I'm going with this? Who knows if the center of that road is still in the same place? The road that fronts all three properties has also been paved and widened a bit several times. Is the center still the same as the gravel road that had the first spike?

There was a fence on the West side that I thought matched the old survey's marks with the existing fence anchors. He said no, that would never happen. This fence follows a stream so there are several measurements and angles. There is a fence anchor at each survey point. No big deal to me. Put new pins in as he sees fit. I had no problem with how it came out.

I did take offence with a remark he made about the "other surveyor" ( who is long gone) being a little sloppy with his work. What I didn't say out loud was the "other surveyor" used a pencil and paper, a book of logarithms, a transit, a measuring chain, and his brain to do the job. He was mighty close, too.

Fancy laser measuring equipment was only a dream at that time. Heck, no one I knew even had a pocket calculator at that time. The properties that he marked were from a family owned farm that probably had "big tree, big rock, etc." as it's description.

I didn't lose much, but who would ever know what's correct? Does it even matter? Once heard it said that we don't own land, just borrow it for a while. :soapbox:

tommyhawk
 

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Once heard it said that we don't own land, just borrow it for a while. :soapbox:

tommyhawk

As long as there is property taxes to be paid, that is 100% correct.
 

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It's amazing how the County surveyor found the corners of our property twice within a 1/2 inch each time. Our neighbors father ,knew a fellow who claimed to be a surveyor ,tell us my neighbor owned half of my front lawn.. Amazing how a little knowledge and the proper tools makes so much difference.
Worst thing I'm the one that had to pay both times. , till the dad passed away ,he still claimed to own my front lawn..,his son my neighbor, said not to worry . I wasn't either way the state would own the majority of it anyway.
 
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Another survey story, or two

I've got two stories to add to the list.

My cousin had a neighbor who insisted that the property line between her property and his was further to the west. It was a straight line so that part was easy. She paid for the survey and he lost about 10 acres but still insisted he had the right to hunt there. . .

My aunt and uncle lived in a house on property that came from our farm. After they passed, my cousin sold the house and property but the new owners didn't get a survey until after they closed. (How stupid was that?) Their first survey put their well on our property. We thought about it and knew approximately where the property line was and told the surveyor to come back. He was totally incompetent and unable to follow bearings and distances on a triangle. We hired a second surveyor and split the cost with new property owner. The new survey gave them their well back which was our loss but the line is within a foot or so of where it should be.

Just because a surveyor has a license doesn't mean they are competent.

Treefarmer
 

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Discussion Starter #7
For those asking who is correct.....

As stated, our surveyor ended up surveying 9 properties around ours to make sure everything lined up, it did until you go to these two properties who were refusing access. So our surveyor agreed with 3 surveyors and the county and disagreed with 2 land owners and one surveyor. I would say that is pretty good odds they were doing it correctly.

They spent 4 days measuring and a week researching and speaking with the other survey companies.
 

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As a licensed land surveyor in NYS in private practice, all of these stories hit home. To the OP's comment about the "truth hurts", sometimes I think people think the land surveyors are making stuff up by waving a magic wand around. The flip side is we can't place boundaries by waving a magic wand. We have to take so many things into consideration: historical documents such as deeds and maps, the "intent" of the deed, existing monumentation on the ground, occupation on the ground, local knowledge, work of our predecessors etc, etc, etc. With all of that, we then form an opinion as to where the boundaries are, and it's just that, an opinion. And, as we all know, sometimes the opinions are different.


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The problem is that there is no such thing as an accurate historical survey. In they days of chains and compasses, there was an incredible number of errors that can and did stack up. You can survey an old piece of property nine times using nine different starting points and end up with nine different sets of markers. As technology has improved so has our accuracy, but it's still not 100% accurate. The planet isn't a perfect sphere after all.
 

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Surveys are a good thing, especially if worthless lawyers get involved.

I always try to make sure the pins are easy to find.

The Earth is not static and there is constant movement even in the most stable areas.

As for the people upset over a trivial amount of land as mentioned in previous posts...well let's just say I'd be banned from GTT if I said what I really thought of them. If they are pissing and moaning over a 1/4 acre out of 200 acres, then they have serious issues.

My last house was in the 'burbs sitting on a whopping 1/10th acre lot, and of all the houses on the block, only mine had two survey pins missing out front. This became an issue when my neighbor was building a POS fence. I had the builder's surveyor come back out under Colorado's defects law and redo the survey. Somehow my idiot neighbors managed to keep the fence on the property line. Damned if I know how as every fence post was set a different distance apart, nothing was plumb, and so on.

Bottom line...100-years from now, none of us on GTT will care; 1-million years from now, who knows what the landscape will be like then. 4 - 5 billion years from now it won't matter as what's left of the Earth will be inside a swollen red-giant sun in its death throes.
 

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I too deal with this every day. Indeed we can only offer our opinion as to the location of a property line. The single greatest problem is the lack of an original survey at the creation of the parcel. Many times deeds are written by landowners, realtors or God forbid, an attorney. I could go on for days but wont. Our primary duty is to protect the public's interest.
Historic surveys, those done with a steel chain, and their inherent problems have little to do today's survey problems.
 

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Legal descriptions for land use so much extra flowery language that I call it 'Shakespearean Legalese."

When I was at NREL, I was working on getting our AutoCAD based models to coincide with the legal descriptions of the property boundaries. When I distilled out the important information of distance and bearing on my notepad; what took pages of legal descriptions boiled down to a page or two.

Although NREL was founded in 1977, the land it sits on had numerous other uses in the past, and some of the monument descriptions were not surveyor's pins with caps; but "hole in rock," etc. That's where historical (hysterical?) surveys get humorous to read...sometimes.

A damn good surveyor is one who is, "out standing in his field." :mocking:
 

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What about GPS? Is that accurate enough to locate parcel corners?
 

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What about GPS? Is that accurate enough to locate parcel corners?
A surveying grade GPS is accurate to 1/100 of a foot, which I think is the standard for a legal survey...maybe the actual surveyors can verify.
A regular GPS might get you accurate to a few feet one day, then 20 or 30 feet the next day.
 

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For those asking who is correct.....

As stated, our surveyor ended up surveying 9 properties around ours to make sure everything lined up, it did until you go to these two properties who were refusing access. So our surveyor agreed with 3 surveyors and the county and disagreed with 2 land owners and one surveyor. I would say that is pretty good odds they were doing it correctly.

They spent 4 days measuring and a week researching and speaking with the other survey companies.


Wow! How much did that wind up costing?

I too have a survey story that started when a neighbor in Georgia was about to put one of those metal Quonset hut looking metal building darned near on my property. I had made it an annual practice to relocate all of my pins. All of a sudden, the two pins adjoining his property were missing. I politely approached him with the property plats, not mentioning the pulled up pins, and he immediately went explosively belligerent. I paid a surveyor to reinstall the pins and he pulled them up again! Wound up in court a few times over the years - almost came to violence at one point until a judge put a peace bond on him and in no uncertain terms informed him if he so much as spoke to me he would be jailed - only then did this insanely belligerent individual back off. It was THAT BAD over a few feet of property.
 

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Historic surveys, those done with a steel chain, and their inherent problems have little to do today's survey problems.
How can they not have a significant bearing on modern surveys? All of those inaccurate surveys (through no fault of theirs) were used as the legal definition of millions of pieces of property around the world. Those legal descriptions do not match with the reality of modern surveying technology, and discrepancies are pretty much guaranteed whenever a modern measurement is taken.
 

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I didn't say they don't have bearing on today's survey. I said they aren't the source of most of the problems we encounter. Original surveys are the foundation we build on. No matter how the measurements stack up against today's those surveys are still correct. The hierarchy of survey control is natural monuments, man made monuments, distance and finally direction. They knew early on that procedures would improve but a physical object would remain in its proper location, unless disturbed by man.
The "shakesperean legalese" spoken of is what qualifies the measurement. When it is stripped out of the deed the essence and intent can be lost.
 

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For those asking who is correct.....

As stated, our surveyor ended up surveying 9 properties around ours to make sure everything lined up, it did until you go to these two properties who were refusing access. So our surveyor agreed with 3 surveyors and the county and disagreed with 2 land owners and one surveyor. I would say that is pretty good odds they were doing it correctly.

They spent 4 days measuring and a week researching and speaking with the other survey companies.
Taking the time spent on that survey our rate would calculate out to at least $7500.00.
That's a pretty good deal, only $833 per property.
 

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I didn't say they don't have bearing on today's survey. I said they aren't the source of most of the problems we encounter. Original surveys are the foundation we build on. No matter how the measurements stack up against today's those surveys are still correct. The hierarchy of survey control is natural monuments, man made monuments, distance and finally direction. They knew early on that procedures would improve but a physical object would remain in its proper location, unless disturbed by man.
The "shakesperean legalese" spoken of is what qualifies the measurement. When it is stripped out of the deed the essence and intent can be lost.
So how do you work with a flawed historic measurement? I live out in the flat corn fields of Illinois, so let's use a simple scenario where 150 years ago some junior surveyor didn't know how to properly calculate magnetic north deviation. His survey said "2800 feet along a line bearing 0*00'00"." Now due to your more accurate measures, you know that he is off by 2*-3* from reality. How is that handled?

(FYI, I'm not arguing...I'm curious)
 

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So how do you work with a flawed historic measurement? I live out in the flat corn fields of Illinois, so let's use a simple scenario where 150 years ago some junior surveyor didn't know how to properly calculate magnetic north deviation. His survey said "2800 feet along a line bearing 0*00'00"." Now due to your more accurate measures, you know that he is off by 2*-3* from reality. How is that handled?

(FYI, I'm not arguing...I'm curious)
That's one of the most common questions we get. You live in IL. So we know that IL was originally surveyed under the Rectangular Survey instructions. Same as here in MI. 150 years ago the original survey was performed using either a magnetic or solar compass. They knew to adjust for declination. It's in their notes. As they traversed the township they set section corners every half mile. These section corners are what we work from today. We have to. Barring proof of fraudulent work or improper methods to reset lost corners they must be used. When you see a call for North that call is tied to the section corners in some way. No matter the current measure of bearing it is still used. I hope that helps.
 
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